The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua yesterday stated that former Fiji 7s playmaker Napolioni Bolaca had a pre-existing knee condition of many years when he was contracted to the Fiji Rugby Union and then subsequently seconded to the Fijian Drua in November 2021.
In a press statement, the club said Bolaca’s secondment to the Drua was cancelled on May 5, 2022, for non-medical related reasons.
“It must be noted that the Drua continued to pay Bolaca for a period of time afterwards. Following his secondment being terminated, Bolaca joined the Fijian 7s program under an FRU contract,” the super rugby club said.
“To be clear, the knee-condition remained at this time.”
The Fijian Drua highlighted that there were other players signed to the club who also had pre-existing conditions and were monitored carefully, managed conservatively and when appropriate, major surgery followed.
“Napolioni was treated exactly the same way. The Fijian Drua funded all medical and travel expenses for players that required in-season and post-season surgery.
“The Fijian Drua had a number of players who joined the squad with pre-existing medical conditions and they have all returned to play successfully after surgery and associated rehabilitation.
“If Napolioni’s conduct had been appropriate, he would have remained a member of the squad and would have been treated in exactly the same manner as the other players in similar circumstances,” said the Fijian Drua.
The Fiji Times yesterday reported that Fiji Rugby Union executive chairman Humphrey Tawake stated that they were working with Fijian Drua to find out what actually happened to the 2021 Olympic Games gold medallist to assist him to get back into the game.
The plight of Bolaca came to light when Meli Nauluvula hosted a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Napolioni’s medical procedure.
Bolaca needs close to $41,000 for specialised surgery in New Zealand for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury which has taken him out of competitive rugby for more than 10 months.